Reflecting on ‘Home’ – Celebrating 16 Years as an Expat in Taiwan

Red Lanterns against an Old Building Backdrop - Taiwan
Red Lanterns against an Old Building Backdrop – Taiwan
A Typical Scene in Outside the Cities in Taiwan [a woman working her stand, scooters going in both directions, a man riding his bicycle, lanterns and signs lining the sky]
A Typical Scene in Outside the Cities in Taiwan [a woman working her stand, scooters going in both directions, a man riding his bicycle, lanterns and signs lining the sky] – Not the best quality shot!! The only thing not typical is a child on the scooter wearing a helmet.
Love How Lion Pops against the purple plants - Taiwan
Love How Lion Pops against the purple plants – Taiwan

All the Keys to Our Home in Taiwan [taken 6 years ago]
All the Keys to Our Home in Taiwan [taken 6 years ago]
Celebrating Milestones

Yesterday marked another significant date in my life. My week-long travel nightmare to get to Taiwan finally ended and 16 years ago, at 5:16 a.m. on June 13th, 1999, I stepped off the plane in Taiwan for the very first time.

Then, on the very same day 10 years later, my husband and I moved into our brand new house, the place that we later transformed into an oasis to suit our own personal style and aesthetics, the place that we currently called home.

Dragon on a Temple Rooftop - Taiwan
Dragon on a Temple Rooftop – Taiwan
Face to Face with a Dragon - Taiwan
Face to Face with a Dragon – Taiwan

Enjoying the Day

I really wanted to write a more personal, ‘from the heart’ post yesterday. However, I woke up bright and early, and witnessed the most spectacular sunrise peeping through our bedroom window. I didn’t want to spend such a lovely morning inside writing, so I got up, got ready, and drove to some of my favorite places.

Then, when the heat became unbearable, I retreated to a local coffee shop and edited my thoughts about arriving in Taiwan all those years ago [for my book] before grabbing a bowl of beef noodles. And when the heat was from the sun was less intense, I continue on with my day exploring Taiwan.

Later yesterday evening, when I did have time and I did sit down to collect my thoughts, I just couldn’t find the perfect way to express all my emotions and feelings of nostalgic I was experiencing. I have no idea why, but I was feeling all sentimental yesterday. But, instead of forcing the words, I put my laptop away and enjoyed the rest of my evening. I made a promise to myself when I returned to blogging that deadlines were only a guideline, and there was always tomorrow.

At Eye Level with a Temple Rooftop - Taiwan
At Eye Level with a Temple Rooftop – Taiwan
A Place Worth Stopping for Awhile  - Dragons on a Temple Rooftop in Taiwan
A Place Worth Stopping for Awhile – Dragons on a Temple Rooftop in Taiwan

Reflections

It was crazy to think about how much time has passed since that day in 1999. It is hard to put into words about how much I have learned, how much I have changed. Choosing a life less ordinary and a road less traveled all those years ago has led to something pretty spectacular.

Life in Taiwan hasn’t been all sunshine and roses. For example, the stares still make me feel like I under constant surveillance, but has gotten less noticeable and more bearable with time. Living here has been challenging from time to time, but fortunately, the good far outweighs the bad.

Maybe I enjoy living here so much because I feel there is a shift in what I view as important to me. Experiences and memories are more important that material things. The only person I try to impress is myself. I feel more confident and have found ‘my voice’ since living here.

It could very well be the fact that living in Taiwan keeps me on my toes. Even after living here all these years, I am still pushed out of my comfort zone occasionally,

However, maybe one of my friends hit the nail on the head when she told me that she thought I would be happy and content living in a paper box because I am such a positive person and adapt to change so well. Maybe she does have a point. Maybe that is why I find joy and contentment in the littlest things that Taiwan and life has to offer. The simple things!!

Or maybe it is because my husband has shown me a side of Taiwan that most *’waiguoren’ don’t see. Maybe it is because I feel settled here, with a place to call ‘home.’

Yes, that could very well be! Because ‘home’ is where the heart is!

[All pictures included in this post, with the exception of one, were taken yesterday.  A more detailed post and more pictures will be published at a later date.]

*foreigner

And if you have time, check me out on facebook, twitter, pinterest, and now instagram

Temple Rooftop at Sunset - Taiwan
Temple Rooftop at Sunset – Taiwan
A Cross on a Buildng at Sunset - Taiwan
A Cross on a Buildng at Sunset – Taiwan
Advertisements

34 thoughts on “Reflecting on ‘Home’ – Celebrating 16 Years as an Expat in Taiwan

    1. Have to agree with your sentiments – what are so many keys for? Thinking back to when I lived in Malaysia, my parents always carried around a lot of keys as well. One key for the house door, one key for the grill gate over the door, two keys for two padlocks to lock the grilled door, the manual key for the big gate infront of our house, the remote control for this big gate, the car keys, the key for the letterbox, the keys for the back door of the house…and so on. You get the idea 😀

      1. @ Autumn – Thanks! She could very well be but I would never live in a paper box though! haha 😉

        @Autumn & @Mabel – I should have included a better description with the key photo. When we got the keys to our house, this is what the builder gave us [the name of the construction company and their address as well as phone number is what is blurred in the photo] and there are three duplicates of each key. Many of the keys are for the bedrooms [the ones on the right]. However, we do have a lot of keys, but I think I only use 3 or 4 of them regularly. I included the photo because I was shocked by the vast amount of keys for one house, too!

  1. Wow! Congratulations on your anniversary, the longest I lived in a foreign country it has been almost 7 years in the UK and that wasn’t a complete culture shock for me. What I mean is that moving to a country like Taiwan where the culture is completely different takes a lot of courage and determination, well done to you and I wish more happy years to come! 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Franca! Yes, moving to Taiwan tested me and took me out of my comfort zone many times, but it was definitely worth it.

      I hope all is well with you and you are still traveling and enjoying everything the world has to offer!! 🙂

  2. Happy anniversary!! Wow, 16 years… it’s a very long time!
    Do you still go to Canada often?

    (I’m with Autumn… so many keys!!! hahaha).

    1. Yes, I do. And when I go, I usually go for a month.

      Like I told Autumn, when we got the keys to our house, this is what the builder gave us [the name of the construction company and their address as well as phone number is what is blurred in the photo] and there are three duplicates of each key. Many of the keys are for the bedrooms [the ones on the right]. However, we do have a lot of keys, but I think I only use 3 or 4 of them regularly. I included the photo because I was shocked by the vast amount of keys for one house, too!

  3. 16years!!! Wow, congratulations for living so long there and achieving everything you have so far.
    No matter how awsome your anniversary is I am actually even more stunned by those keys. How on earth do you take these huge amount of keys with you, in a backpack? 😀

    1. Thanks so much, Timo!

      Like I told the others, when we got the keys to our house, this is what the builder gave us [the name of the construction company and their address as well as phone number is what is blurred in the photo] and there are three duplicates of each key. Many of the keys are for the bedrooms [the ones on the right]. However, we do have a lot of keys, but I think I only use 3 or 4 of them regularly. I included the photo because I was shocked by the vast amount of keys for one house, too! I don’t carry all these around. 🙂

  4. Congratulations Constance! I am happy to hear Taiwan worked out well for you. I think personality definitely plays a huge role in adapting well to such a different environment.

    PS: If you ever come to Taipei within the next two months I would love to offer you a cup of tea 🙂

    1. Thanks so much! I agree that personality has a lot to do with adapting, but sometimes no matter how positive you are, things can get difficult.

      As of now, I have no plans to go to Taipei – but if I do, I will let you know [as it would be awesome to meet you].

  5. Beautiful photos of Taiwan as always, Constance. You really do have an eye for street photography 🙂 So nice to hear your anniversary was a great one, many more to come. It’s funny how we learn to like a place the longer we live there…sort of like, we grow as we spend more time somewhere and the place grows on us… I remember I didn’t want to move back to Australia almost a decade ago and wanted to go back to Singapore after I arrived. Today, its a different story altogether. A complex story, which I hope to share more of in my book.

    Agree with you it’s the simple things in life that we should be greatful for. Material things can always be replaced. It’s always the people and memories with them that matter the most because pretty much all of the time, they are one in a million 🙂 ❤

    1. Mabel, you are certainly right. Also, I find that the things that were once unusual and foreign to me are now a part of every day life. Things that would grab my attention in the past have now become normal and don’t even make me bat an eye anyone.

      The simple things are the best as you can’t put a price tag on memories and moments!

  6. 16 years is a long time! A good time, too. I’ve met some great and important people who have lived abroad for many years like you. You sound happy, just like them, So cheers to creating a life that you love. 🙂

  7. When you talk about still getting the stares, I think that will continue to happen for a long time to come. You still look as much a waiguoren as you were 16 years ago, so the stares will unfortunately continue, I think. Hopefully I get to live long enough to see the whole world becoming one community where everyone gets to live everywhere and there won’t be any waiguoren anywhere in the world.

    Also, do you keep those keys like that all the time, or just for photo op? I don’t think it is a great idea to keep the spare keys together with the mains. They are supposed to be your backups in case you lost your keys! :/

    1. Yes, you are right about the stares. However, sometimes when people are talking about me in Chinese, I will stay something to let them know I understand. I do it with a smile on my face so they know I really don’t care but their reaction is usually priceless. 🙂

      Like I told the others, when we got the keys to our house, this is what the builder gave us [the name of the construction company and their address as well as phone number is what is blurred in the photo] and there are three duplicates of each key. Many of the keys are for the bedrooms [the ones on the right]. However, we do have a lot of keys, but I think I only use 3 or 4 of them regularly. I included the photo because I was shocked by the vast amount of keys for one house, too! I don’t carry all these around. 🙂

  8. Congratulations on 16 years! It sounds like you have fully adapted to Taiwan and hopefully someday people can just assume you live there, expect you to speak Mandarin, and not a free English conversation.

    Sigh, I am so jealous of all the delicious food you have access all these years. The last time I got to visit Taiwan, I gained 10 pounds in 7 days, since I missed the food so much. Shaved beef noodles, night markets, the breakfast food , hotpot restaurants, street vendors….ah woe is me.

    1. Like I told the others, when we got the keys to our house, this is what the builder gave us [the name of the construction company and their address as well as phone number is what is blurred in the photo] and there are three duplicates of each key. Many of the keys are for the bedrooms [the ones on the right]. However, we do have a lot of keys, but I think I only use 3 or 4 of them regularly. I included the photo because I was shocked by the vast amount of keys for one house, too! I don’t carry all these around. 🙂

  9. 16 years! That’s amazing! Congrats!
    Love all the keys… I only have 3 here so I add anything to them to make them more sizable!
    It’s great that you’ve found the place to be and where you are happy so I wish you many more happy years in Taiwan! (and those dragons on the temple are beautiful, the details are amazing!)

    1. Actually, I only use 3 or 4 of these keys as well. The bunch in the picture is what the builder gave us when he handed over the keys to the house.

      And thanks so much!! It is hard to believe how fast 16 years have flown by! And I am glad you like the photos! It was the first time I have had the opportunity to go to a temple rooftop, so it was the perfect way to celebrate 16 years in Taiwan.

  10. Happy expat anniversary! I think putting aside the post for a day worked well, because the post turned out wonderfully. I also really enjoyed the temple dragon photographs!

  11. The temple roof shot is amazing!

    I think when you live away from your ‘motherland’ you never get a sense of belonging. You can settle, but a little part of you always feels like you’re still a guest. And when you’re a guest, you notice things more and realise that you could be happy with just paper box!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s